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September 2000 - Nancy Hernandez, Schools Not Jails

Our Organizing:

I got involved with the youth movement in 95 when high school students from all over Northern Cali organized blow outs in protest of Pito Wilson’s racist proposition 187 and the conditions of the schools we went to. We walked out of high schools and middles schools, marched, took over freeways, and blockaded intersections in over 5 different cities. We were saying that education is a human right and we all deserve to be taught a relevant history that teaches us about ourselves and others with respect. From that walkout, a lot of organizing, and a few direct actions, we got a Raza Studies class implemented in my high school. The class teaches Raza history from our perspective, not what the Europeans say about us.

In 97 we organized another blow out of Bay Area schools to protest the outrageous amount of money the state has been investing in prisons while our schools fall apart, class sizes get bigger, community programs are cut, and teachers are underpaid. 15 different schools from 11 different cities walked out of school, took over BART (our metro/subway system) and met in Concord where a 24 something million dollar jail had just been built down the street from a school that is over populated and in need of repair. There were over 3 thousand high school and middle school students there to demand more money for schools and to protest the amount of money the state puts into locking our gente up and profiting from their slavery.

Proposition 21 was put on the 2000 ballot to change the juvenile court system and make it eaiser to lock up more young people for longer amounts of time, for lesser crimes. It was a direct attack on young people that was met with direct action by young people. We were a part of a state wide coalition that included YOC in Southern Cali , 3rd Eye Movement in SF, Youth Making a Change, Getting Down in Oakland, and youth run groups all across the state. We targeted the funders of the proposition, like Cheveron, PG&E, San Diego Gas & Electric, the Hilton, UnoCal and did direct actions on their corporations. We were a part of a state wide week of actions that reached from the Oregon border to the Mexican border. Young people organized teach ins, assemblies, parties, rallies, a concert, banner drops, marches, walkouts, and civil disobedience actions within the same week to raise awareness of what the media was leaving out about prop 21, and to protest the Prison Industrial complex that is profiting off all the incarceration of our people.

This month thousands of people from all over the West coast and nation (and Rage) came to LA for the Democratic National Convention. We believe that in this two party system all that really matters is money and that neither group of capitalists are looking out for our interests. We went to talk about freeing our political prisoners like Leonard Peltier and Mumia, to talk about investing more money into better schools, and putting a moratorium (stop) on the building of any more state prisons in Ca. YOC organized a march that went from Belmont High, a school in LA that cannot be used because it was built on a toxic site, to the juvenile court, to the office of the governor and demanded to meet with him to present our demands.

You can email us in Northern Cali at [email protected] and in Southern Cali at [email protected]

To Learn More About Us:

Our Demands

1. Billions for Schools – Prioritize Funding to schools in Low-income Communities of Color
2. Environmental Justice for Youth: Toxic Free Schools

3. Redesign K-12 Education System – Ethnic Studies, Women’s Studies, G/L/B/T Studies

4. End High Stakes Testing – Abolish Stanford 9, GRE, SAT

5. Bilingual Ed Now – Repeal 227

6. Stop Criminalizing Youth – Repeal 21

7. Increase Youth Support Programs

8. Affirmative Action & University Access Now – Repeal Prop. 209, SP1, SP2, E.O. 665

9. Living Wage Job Development in Low-income Communities of Color

10. End Prison Building and Stop profiteering off of youth: Shift from prisons to schools and end the privatization of schools and prisons

Photos provided by David Atlas and Maayan Zach

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